A lot has been said recently about finishing moves and whether they truly exist anymore. Almost every maneuver gets kicked out of at some point but that wasn’t true for most of wrestling history. Hulk Hogan’s big leg drop always meant the end of the match. No one kicked out of Jerry Lawler’s piledriver. But even in the halcyon days of finishing maneuvers, there were some maneuvers that were awful or made no sense. Here are five of the worst finishing maneuvers.
Atomic Noogie: Sgt Slaughter: In the early 90’s Sgt Slaughter returned to the WWE even though Vince McMahon still held a bit of a grudge against him for not including the WWE in his GI Joe deal. Supposedly, McMahon decided to punish him by making him a villain and an Iraqi sympathizer. At this point Sgt. Slaughter had one of the most famous finishing maneuvers of all time, The Cobra Clutch, but, given his new villainous role, the WWE decided to give him a new finisher, The Atomic Noogie.
What was it you ask? Sgt. Slaughter would take his knuckle and shove it into the side of your head….really hard. First of all, villains had been using the knuckles to cause pain to faces for a long time but this time it was being used as a finisher, not as a rest hold. Second, no one wants to see a finishing maneuver named after something used on the playground. It would be like using the wedgie or the purple nurple as a finishing maneuver. Painful? Probably. A good finisher? No.
The People’s Elbow: The Rock: I understand that the People’s Elbow was partially a joke. It was done during the Attitude Era where wrestling would get ironic and campy sometimes but the height of this was The People’s Elbow. Other wrestlers’ had used a version of the elbow drop as a finisher. Buddy Landel did it but his flying elbow drop looked fast and painful. Johnny Valentine also did it but he had a weird knob at the end of his elbow so it looked like maybe it caused more damage.
The People’s Elbow was done from a standing position and it was slow. In fact, the Rock would usually come to a complete stop before dropping it. The fact that he used it to pin almost every person of a name in the WWE just adds insult to injury.
The Mandible Claw: Mankind: Let’s get my bias out of the way. Unless the claw was applied to the stomach, where it looked like it hurt, I hated all the claws. I never understood why the head claw was so painful. Your skull is pretty thick. People have taken bats to the head and walked away from it. The idea that someone’s hands were so strong they could crush your skull with it was pretty questionable. At least Kerry Von Erich looked buff but Baron Von Raschke? There is no way his claw hurt that much.
My problem with the mandible claw is two-fold. First, your mouth must be open to using it. If you were wrestling Mankind wouldn’t you just….keep your mouth shut? Two, and most importantly, no one ever tried to bite Mankind’s fingers. Yes, I know he had that leather thing on his hand BUT if someone bit down I’m betting Mankind would have released that hold in a hurry.
The Big Chop: The Great Khali: Okay you are in a desperate struggle for your life. You Wind up to punch your attacker do you punch him: A) On the top of his head? Or B) literally anywhere else? If you chose A then perhaps, you are The Great Khali.
Chops are a classic wrestling maneuver both Ric Flair and Wahoo McDaniel were known for their fiery chops but their chops were to the chest. The Great Khali would raise his hand and chop you in literally the most protected part of your body, the top of the skull. Lazy and terrible looking.
The Worm: Scotty Too Hotty: Quick, what do the Stone Cold Stunner and the RKO out of nowhere have in common? If you answered they’re quick moves that can happen at any time you are correct. The less setup, the better the finishing maneuver. By that metric, The Worm might be the worst finisher ever. To do the worm first Scotty Too Hotty had to have his opponent laying on the other side of the ring.
Then he would hop 3 times, slink like an inchworm toward his opponent and at the last second stand and drop a chop on his opponent’s head. Not only does this take SO long that any sane wrestler would roll out of the ring but the final fist chop doesn’t look painful at all. Just dumb.
The Sharpshooter, The Figure Four, The Frankensteiner all of these moves will be around forever because they look effective and painful. But let’s hope that the five above stay retired, forever.